Tomorrow night’s national semifinal has North Dakota State returning to ESPN2 on a Friday night for a fifth straight year. There has been some great games in there (Georgia Southern -2012) and some blowouts (the last three seasons), the TV ratings have never been super high. One reason is ESPN2 is in fewer homes than ESPN, the second, a Friday night in December is tough for people between getting ready for the holidays and quite frankly, other sporting events going on.
NDSU’s game against South Dakota State produced the highest rating for a Bison game since the move up to Division 1, garnering 1.98 million viewers. The biggest reasons there are two-fold as well, being placed on ESPN at 11 am with no other football going on is monstrous. No other games to compete with is a big deal to start. The second being on ESPN shouldn’t be overlooked either, since the channel is in far more homes than ESPN 2, Fox Sports 1 or ESPNU.
Here’s a look at NDSU’s top rated games over the past five years: (thanks to Sports TV Ratings.com)
- 2016 FCS Quarterfinal, SDSU at NDSU, 11 am ESPN (1.98 million viewers)
- 2015 FCS Quarterfinal, UNI at NDSU, 11 am ESPN (1.64 million viewers)
- 2013 FCS Quarterfinal, Coastal Carolina at NDSU, 11 am ESPN (1.5 million viewers)
- 2015 FCS Championship Game, NDSU vs Illinois St, 12pm ESPN2 (1.44 million viewers)
- 2014 FCS Quarterfinal, Coastal Carolina at NDSU, 11 am ESPN (1.4 million viewers)
- 2014 FCS Championship Game, Towson vs NDSU, 1pm ESPN2 (1.2 million viewers)
- 2013 FCS Championship Game, NDSU vs Sam Houston, 12pm ESPN2 (1.1 million viewers)
- 2015 FCS Kickoff, NDSU at Montana, 3:30pm ESPN (981K viewers)
- 2016 North Dakota State at Iowa, 11 am ESPN2 (968K viewers)
- 2016 FCS Kickoff, Charleston Southern at NDSU, 6:30pm ESPN (797K viewers)
- 2013 North Dakota State at Kansas State, 7:30pm FS1 (585K viewers)
- 2014 North Dakota State at Iowa State, 11am FS 1 (407K viewers)
I think tomorrow night’s game will not hit one million viewers, but has a chance to be rated higher than the FCS Kickoff games. We’ll see come early next week. This exposure though, for an FCS team? Priceless.